FL/VO SOTA Tour Aug-22: 36 Summits in 6 Days

I left the UK by car on Sunday August 21, crossed the channel by ferry and arrived early morning at the trailhead - where two camper vans had parked up for the night.
As it was still very early, I decided to recline my seat and get some rest only to be woken by the sweltering heat a few hours later caused by the sun beating down on the car. Time to get ready for the first three summits in the Vosges.

I won’t include a summit by summit write-up, but will include some pictures from each day’s activating, with some comments where relevant.

Whilst none of the summits I attempted are particularly difficult - for some you can actually drive into the AZ - here are some of my observations, particularly compared to activating in G/GW.

  • Many of the summits are in woodland; some have great views, but for many, you are surrounded by trees.
  • This makes maintaining a GPS lock problematic at times.
  • The ascent for some summits is steep on loose soil with a layer of dead leaves, making walking up as slippery as mud.
  • I had many followers of the flying kind. On some summits I had to put on a thin long sleeved hoody to keep the flies off me
  • For 80% of the activations, I could use a (summit) post, fallen tree, tree stump or other item to fasten my pole to. On a few occasions I used the Sotabeams Mini Pole Stake Kit. (I never had a deploy any guying rings/guy lines on any of the activations
  • Storms have also devastated the forests in the Vosges with many uprooted trees lying around.
  • Rural communities continue to get ready for winter with stockpiling wood for heating.
  • Several summits have ski-lifts (which were not working of course). You could imagine the place in winter.

I used the following equipment for all my activations:

  • Transceiver: Lab599 Discovery TX-500
  • Battery: Zippy LifePo 4200 mAh
  • Pole: Lakeside-1 Travel 600
  • Antenna: Sotabeams 40/20 linked dipole
  • Logbook: Rite in the rain 5x3
  • GPS: Garmin GPSMap 62s
  • Sitmat: WWAGO

Backup (in backpack, not used) in 8x7x2” pouch containing):

  • HyEndFed EFHW QRP antenna (40/20/10m) 25W
  • Coax: RG174 (5m & 10m lengths)
  • 40m & 20m dipole
  • Spare fuses.
  • Yaesu FT-2DR with Diamond RH7700

Backup (in car, not used):

  • Transceiver: Elecraft KX3
  • Poles: Sotabeams Tactical Mini 6m & Compact 10m Travel Mast
  • Battery: Zippy 8400 maH
  • Elecraft T1 Antenna Tuner
  • OCF multiband dipole

I charged my 4200 mAh battery each evening with a Turnigy Accucel-6

Tour details:
Total distance travelled by car (door-to-door): 1,900 miles
Total distance walked: 80 miles (128km)
Total QSOs (all SSB): 459

  • Total S2S: 29
    Total Points: 374
  • FL/VO: 358 (36 summits)
  • LX: 4 (1 summit)
  • ON: 12 (2 summits)
    Items lost: 2 Sotabeams Aluminium Alloy pegs

Day 1 (Aug 22): FL/VO-023, FL/VO-090, FL/VO-092, FL/VO-019, FL/VO-069, FL/VO-016

The first 3 summits can be reached from the same parking place. There is not much room, but a bench allows to easy pole fastening. FL/VO-019 is a ‘drive-on’ summit and the blurry photo taken on FL/VO-016 is a result of the huge amount of flies preventing the camera from focussing on the far distance.

Day 2 (Aug 23): FL/VO-031, FL/VO-089, FL/VO-029, FL/VO-020, FL/VO-014, FL/VO-003 , FL/VO-021

More woodland activations today. I decided to activate FL/VO-021 late in the day as this can be a popular location and there isn’t much room at the summit.

Day 3 (Aug 24): FL/VO-002, FL/VO-083, FL/VO-170, FL/VO-080, FL/VO-084, FL/VO-012

I was asked to leave FL/VO-002. I decided to activate first thing as I read this is a popular place and set up at the far end, so not to create any obstruction. There was only one other person on the summit. During the activation I could see a person approaching from the corner of my eye. When I looked up, I noticed someone standing in a ‘power stance’ with both hands on his hips, one foot a bit in front of the other frowning at me. He was wearing a Hohneck restaurant T-shirt and told me to pack up as this was private property and a protected location. (Not sure how he defined it, but understood it to be a protected location of natural beauty). I asked the chasers to stand-by and called after him, apologised and asked whether I could operate further down. He waved his arms and stated that it was not allowed anywhere.
I wondered how he found out I was there, but noticed a security camera at the apex of the restaurant roof when I walked back. I since found out that there may be a sign stating that amateur radio operating is not allowed, but did not see the sign (which may well have been there).

Day 4 (Aug 25): FL/VO-001, FL/VO-078, FL/VO-079, FL/VO-081, FL/VO-082, FL/VO-172

This was a glorious day weather wise with most summits in the open.

Day 5 (Aug 26): FL/VO-018, FL/VO-087, FL/VO-008, FL/VO-177, FL/VO-010

When I was setting up on FL/VO-018, I noticed a cyclist appearing. He stopped and seemed very interested in what I was doing. I explained SOTA, showed him the equipment I was using and demonstrated by calling a FF ON station. He kept repeating ‘Oscar November’, repeating part of the callsigns. Turns out he used to be a member of the ‘Chasseurs Alpins’ trekking in the mountains in winter in white camouflage and explained the comms equipment was huge compared to my TX-500. he took some pictures, we shook hands and he moved on and I started my activation.

The view from FL/VO-177 was fabulous. Could have sat there for hours, but these summits don’t activate themselves…

Day 6 (Aug 27): FL/VO-009, FL/VO-005, FL/VO-095, FL/VO-017, FL/VO-091, FL/VO-007

The plastic spacer broke on one of the links of the dipole, so had to perform some repairs. I tried to get closer to the fence at FL/VO-009, but the sign seemed to indicate that either snakes or spikes were present in the undergrowth so decided not to attempt to get to higher ground. Since this location was not in the AZ, I walked back into the open field at higher ground well within the AZ.

The last activation FL/VO-007 was performed in the dark. As I was about to make my ascent, a Dutch couple were setting up their tent and asked me whether I was joining the rave. They explained that they had hoped to camp between Le grand Brezouard and Le Petit Brezourd, but that a rave was taking place there. As I reached the summit, I could hear the generator and the thumping bass. I made 8 contacts, took the station down and made my way back to the car.

As I wanted to avoid a repeat of having to pay another 50+ Euros on tolls driving west to make my way back to Calais, I decided to drive through Luxembourg & Belgium instead and pick up 3 more summits along the way.

I managed to successfully activate LX/LX-001, ON/ON-004 and ON/ON-006; the latter two being drive-on summits and the one in LX requiring only a very small walk.

As always, many thanks to all the 158 chasers who took the effort to answer my CQ calls.

73, Robert


Nice to have a S2S with you!
73 Chris


Thanks Robert for a great reports with photos. :+1:

cheers to you :beers:

Geoff vk3sq

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Hi Robert,

Congratulations :clap: on your tour and thank you for your activation report.
A harvest of 374 points for 39 summits, with an average of almost 12 QSOs per summit is undoubtedly a good operation!
Can we understand the enthusiasm of the activators to go for a ride in FL/VO!
There have been many!

Much less came in F/CR, 300 peaks many of which are still untouched, but with much less points!

It is true that it would cost 50€ more in tolls to come and visit our beautiful region where it has only rained once in 3 months, with every day +34°C

It’s my humor!

Your performance remains outstanding and I hope you will keep very good memories of this one (except FL/VO-002 and the flies).

73, Éric


Thanks for a very interesting report, it was a pleasure to chase you on some of the summits. I was lucky when I was on FL/VO-002 a few years ago in the late afternoon, not to meet the anti-radio amateur restauranteur!

It was a great achievement that you activated so many summits solo. Only yourself to depend upon for point to point road navigation etc. I hope you had good accommodation in the Vosges and you enjoyed the food. I think your decision to return via Luxembourg and Belgium was a good one.

73 de Phil G4OBK


Hi Robert,
tnx fer nice report and pictures.
Also tnx fer some qso’s.
Best 73’

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F/CR summits are very different to FL/VO and I have lots of them in my sights. Sadly someone has set hire car prices to the silly level. I can hire a small hatchback car at Prague Airport for €150-170 a week and the same car from Lyon Airport for €575-650 a week. Suddenly going to France has become seriously expensive. That’s bad because I don’t get to play in all the nice hills or more importantly get something really nice to eat and drink! Or even go and see my sister.



thanks for the comprehensive report. And especially the beautiful photos. It’s fun to read. I still have 111 SOTA’s to go there. So I will definitely come back.

73 - Tonnie - PA9CW.

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Many thanks for the S2S Chris; the pleasure was all mine.

73, Robert

Hi Robert,

Congrats to your many activations in the Voges, the nice pictures and thanks for the three S2S when I was in EA3!

On 24th of August, both were first activations:

1st S2S: EA3/GI-107 to FL/VO-170

All cork oak trees were black, the result of a forest fire some years ago. But these trees were the only ones that survived the fire (the cork bark seems to protect them from the fire).

2nd S2S: EA3/GI-090 to FL/VO-084

This was a complete for me, thanks!

and on 25th of August
3rd S2S: EA3/GI-096 to FL/VO-082

I activated FL/VO-002 this year and was aware of the problem one could get with the hotel owner. Therefore, I activated out of sight of the hotel, a bit below the summit peak towards West, which is still in the AZ.

This photo was taken on 31st of May and looks probably much greener than when you were there.

73 Stephan

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Thanks for the message.

This may not be the perfect activation weather for me; a bit too hot… Low/mid 20s is great for me.
But many thanks for the well-wishes and I will keep the recommendation in mind next time I come to France. :+1:

73, Robert

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Many thanks for the S2Ss and including the images showing your location. It’s always nice to know where someone was operating when contact was made.

All the best!

73, Robert

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Thanks for the support during my activations Phil. :+1:
Despite the pre-planning, there were some summits where I could have parked nearer.
On Wednesday, I had planned to activate a summit late afternoon/early evening but abandoned this due to a no-through-road near La Bresse requiring a 45 minute detour so gave up and had an early dinner.

Accommodation was great; I stayed in La Bresse and had counted on a single room B&B but ended up with a 2 bedroom apartment with separate living room and kitchen.
A hectic week, but can look back with some great memories.

73, Robert



The pleasure was all mine!

73, Robert



This was my first time activating in The Vosges, so still have a way to go!

Seems we were in the area at similar times activating but at different summits.
Misschien de volgende keer!

73, Robert


Congratulations on a successful SOTA adventure, and thanks for a great report and photos. It was lovely to get you in the log when you were on FL/VO-170.

I take it you weren’t tempted to join the rave :rofl:

73, and hopefully work you again soon.

Matthew, M0JSB

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Nice report and images @M0RWX Robert, looks like you had a cracking time! I tried my best to call in on as many activations as possible, don’t think I missed too many :grinning: look forward to your next adventure!

73, GW4BML. Ben

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Many thanks @M0JSB

A pleasant surprise - and a double take - to get you in the log from FL/VO-170.

I was running on fumes at that time - final activation in FL/VO - it was dark and I was eager to get back to my apartment, have a shower and get some food.
Perhaps next time! :rofl:

73, Robert

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Many thanks @GW4BML Ben.
Believe it or not but I had originally planned to spend a week activating in Scotland, but the weather forecast swung it in favour of FL/VO in the end. :sunglasses:

You were among the top chasers indeed together with @F4WBN @EA2DT @EA2CKX S59ILF and @G0FEX

Thanks for the support and good luck with your GW conquest. Not many left to do now!

73, Robert


Ha… I did a mini version of that last month. Several of the same summits.
Nice report!

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